We've all been there, struggling with keywords and/or search engines in the quest to find that funny website or crucial piece of information. So we thought we'd try and help improve things for you...
Which search engine to use?
Ask.com (originally Ask Jeeves) was one of the first popular internet search engines, going way back to 1996. Ask.com allows users to get a sneak peek at web pages by mousing over the search result, thus saving you the time of clicking a link and not getting the page you want. You can also pose questions to the search engine, such as "who invented the telephone?" and it will neatly spit out the result at the top of the page.
Of course, Google is the reigning king of search engines — and with good reason. It's fast, has a clean-look and offers a variety of search customisation options.
Want to search for Afrikaans pages only? You can do it in Google. Want Google tips and messages displayed in Klingon? You can do that too. Google also offers three levels of filtering for parents and/or children.
Microsoft's latest attempt at search engine domination, Bing, is no slouch when it comes to, well, searching... One entertaining feature is the inclusion of a daily background, often inspired by National Geographic. Within the picture, one will find bits of information as well.
Bing also features instant answers to queries such as mathematical calculations, definitions and sports results.
Web search hints and tips:
Avoid using common terms, such as 'web', 'people' and 'work'. This often leads to a flood of unwanted results, so try to be more specific.
Don't be afraid to enter multiple search terms, with synonyms and plurals included. An example of this would be 'eat', 'eating', 'ate', and 'consume' and 'consumption'. In the search box, merely type the corresponding words, separated by spaces.
Most times, the most obvious term can help too — you might not get the results you want by typing in 'pirates' and 'soccer'. But the addition of 'South Africa' and 'PSL' might just do the trick!
Many search engines don't support search queries in a question form. So instead of typing "Where do vampire bats come from?" try "vampire bat origin".
You can also use quotes when you'd like the search engine to look for those words in that particular order. So if you were to type in "John Kennedy" (with the quotation marks), that phrase will give preference to "John F. Kennedy". (Normally if you were to type in John Kennedy without any quotation marks, it would return results for everything that includes the words "John" and "Kennedy" on the same page, but not necessarily linked to each other.)
Hyphens are a very useful, albeit under-utilised function when it comes to searches. These are normally used to indicate that words have very strong meanings towards each other. Sure, you could
type your phrases without hyphens next to each other, but you'd be surprised at the differences you get with the addition of a hyphen sometimes. For example, if you wanted information on a red house, don't search for "red house" as it might return results for all pages with the words "red" and "house", but not necessarily used in relation. Search for "red-house" instead.
On the flip-side of this, have you ever wanted to search for a popular term but didn't want certain results to show up? Just use a hyphen together with the word you don't want. For example, if you were to type 'media' but didn't want newspaper-related results, simply type "media –newspapers" (no quotation marks).